Retaliation (Matthew 5:38-42)

Yesterday we thought about how Jesus applied the law of God to one’s inner attitudes of anger and of inappropriate thinking, and how such thoughts broke the sixth and seventh commandments. He also applied God’s demands in other ways as well, including retaliation.

Legally, it was appropriate to have an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If a...

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Christians and the law (1) (Matthew 5:17-36)

As Jesus explains the role of the law of God in the lives of his people, he contrasts his teaching with longstanding tradition when he uses the clause, ‘You have heard that it was said to those of old….’ It is likely that he is referring to some of the traditions followed by the Pharisees.

The sixth commandment
Tradition accepted that a murderer...

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Christian Righteousness (Matthew 5:17-37)

One issue that arose with the public ministry of the Saviour was what he taught about the law of God. It is obvious from the Gospel accounts that scribes and the Pharisees did not think that Jesus honoured the law. It is obvious too that Jesus did not think that they kept it. So there was a clear difference between them in that regard.

Jesus made...

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Christians as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)

Jesus in using the illustrations of salt and light reveals that his followers will influence society. He reminds them of their responsibility not to spoil or hide their influence. They are the instruments that he will use to bring change.

Salt is small in size, but its influence far exceeds its size. A Christian may say to himself that he is...

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Christians as light (5:14-16)

Later, Jesus would say that he is the Light of the world, so there is an obvious allusion to Christlikeness when he says that his disciples too are the light of the world. In order to function as lights, believers need to become like Jesus increasingly. We know how this comes about – by spending time with him in his Word and by speaking to him in p...

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Christians as salt (Matt. 5:13)

Salt had a variety of usages in the ancient world and we can get an overall picture of what the illustration means by considering them. First, salt was used in confirmation of a covenant. Note this question in 2 Chronicles 13:5: ‘Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a c...

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Who can be salt and light? (Matthew 5:13-16)

Jesus reminds his disciples that when they have the characteristics listed in the Beatitudes they will be salt and light. This means that when they are humble, penitent, passionate for righteousness, compassionate, holy, and peaceable, they will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world even if they are persecuted by it.

The two...

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Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16

The first question to work out concerns who Jesus is speaking to here. We find an answer to that question by noting the use of the plural personal pronoun. He is speaking to the same people as he addressed in verses 11 and 12. In those verses, he speaks to his disciples as those who will be opposed and persecuted and maligned. We would deduce from...

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More blessings of the Kingdom (Matthew 5:7-12)

Jesus tells us that the merciful will receive mercy from God. We are not accustomed to thinking of believers as those who will receive mercy from God in the future. Onesiphorus showed practical aspects of mercy to Paul by looking for him diligently in Rome. Paul’s response was ‘May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often...

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The blessings of the kingdom (Matthew 5:2-6)

The poor in spirit, says Jesus, have the kingdom. Those who realise that they are nothing and have nothing are described as those who have a real status and innumerable resources. Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to them, a reminder that in his kingdom everyone is made a king. Whatever they need at any time can be supplied. Paul reminded the...

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Beatitudes five to eight (Matthew 5:7-12)

Yesterday we thought about the first four Beatitudes that Jesus taught. In the fifth, he says that the followers of the King are marked by mercy. We often link mercy with the divine response to our confession of sin when God shows mercy to those who do so in the sense of receiving pardon. Yet mercy is a bigger concept than that because it extends...

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Beatitudes One to Four (Matthew 5:3-6)

In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes spiritual features found in his followers. The first feature that he mentions is poor in spirit. Such an attitude is similar to humility in outcome, and it probably is the root of which humility is the fruit. Jesus does not mean a person who is self-demeaning, who pretends that he or she cannot do anything....

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The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12)

In the Sermon on the Mount we have depicted the life of repentance that Jesus had already called his listeners towards. Throughout the sermon Jesus will contrast his followers from those who adopt the outlook of the Pharisees and those who follow the ideas of pagan philosophers, both of which were common at that time. Similarly, his teachings in...

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Message and messengers of the King (Matthew 4:12-20)

How would we summarise the message that Jesus preached during this period described by Matthew? Obviously, since he had not yet died on the cross and risen again from the dead, there would be some differences between what was preached by him and then later by the apostles. We can summarise the difference by saying that Jesus preached the kingdom...

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Prophecy fulfilled (Matthew 4:12-20)

Matthew, in his Gospel, does not mention some incidents that occurred in the experience of Jesus after his baptism. They are recorded by John in the first four chapters of his Gospel. In Matthew 4, there is a gap of about a year between verse 11 and verse 12.

What is Matthew doing in this passage? First, he is explaining how a specific prophecy...

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The sequel to the temptations (Matthew 4)

Jesus won a great victory. He revealed that he could overcome the enemy by obedience to the will of God. We have to remember that such a triumph had never been known before. Unlike us, Jesus could not be tempted from the inside and there was nothing in him that found the temptations attractive. Eden had become a terrible place because of Adam’s f...

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Dealing with the temptations (Matthew 4)

It has been pointed out that the three temptations by the devil were linked to the sonship of Jesus which had been declared at the baptism when the Father spoke from heaven. The devil began by attempting to get Jesus to prove that he was the Son of God. Then the devil suggested to Jesus that he do something dramatic to show that he was the Son of...

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Enduring the temptations (Matthew 4)

Clearly there is a contrast here between the circumstances in which the first Adam met the devil and his temptations and in which the last Adam met him. The first Adam was tempted in beautiful surroundings, in the Garden of Eden, in a place of great beauty. He was surrounded by fruit to eat. Jesus, the last Adam, was in the desert, in a place that...

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Before the temptations (Matthew 4)

This period of temptation for Jesus took place in the Judean desert, near to where John had baptised Jesus. What is surprising about it is that the temptations were not instigated by the devil as if he was engaged in trying to defeat the Saviour immediately and remove him as a threat. Instead, the devil is on the defensive, not the offensive. The...

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Three lessons from the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3)

Learn from John’s response to admire the sinlessness of Jesus. There was not much in life that would cause John to move away from a divine instruction. He was quite prepared to rebuke kings for their sins. Yet he recognised that Jesus was different from all other men because all others would have received John’s baptism if they had repented. John w...

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The Anointing of Jesus (Matthew 3)

It was customary for a king to be anointed when his kingship was authorised. We can think of how Samuel anointed David to be king long before it was public knowledge. So Jesus came to John for the anointing rather than John going to Jesus. Even the initiative for the anointing came from Jesus, which is another reminder that he was in charge.

John...

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The Announcement of John (Matthew 3)

John had a ministry of preparation as well as proclamation. As far as preparation for the coming of the Messiah was concerned, John told his listeners that they had to respond inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly, they had to repent and outwardly they had to be baptised.

John’s baptism is not the same as Christian baptism. Christian baptism connects us...

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John the Baptist (Matthew 3)

John had waited thirty years before commencing his call to be the forerunner of the Messiah. Luke tells us that John had lived in the wilderness until he commenced to preach (Luke 2:80). Whatever else we can say about those decades, we can see that the time of preparation was a lot longer than the period in which he preached. We can see in this...

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From Bethlehem to Egypt (Matthew 2)

The wise men were guided by the star right to where Jesus was. Its guidance brought them great joy. Matthew stresses that they did not worship Mary, but only worshipped the child Jesus. Three types of gifts were given, and they indicated the resources of the wise men. Moreover, the gifts were of practical benefit and would help the family in...

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Trouble in Jerusalem (Matthew 2)

It looks as if the arrival of the wise men caused quite a stir, which suggests that they were more than three in number. Probably the people in Jerusalem were concerned about what the Romans might do if they heard that people were speaking about another king, which would be regarded as a threat to their authority.

The response of Herod is strange...

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The wise men (Matthew 2)

It has been pointed out that in general the church experiences the truth that Paul says when he writes to the Corinthians that not many wise by human estimation worship Jesus. Yet sometimes there are exceptions and here we have one of them because some wise men came to worship Jesus. You may be interested to know that Chrysostom says there were...

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The Visit of the Magi (Matthew 2)

It is common on Christmas cards to see the wise men and the shepherds visiting the newly born infant lying in a manger. Yet it is very unlikely that the wise men visited Jesus and his parents on that date, or even within a few weeks of his birth. Can we say when Jesus was born? We know that Herod died in 4BC, so Jesus must have been born in about...

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The consequences of the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25)

What does Matthew want his readers to do after reading his brief account of the birth of Jesus? Obviously, he would want them to trust in Jesus and to marvel at the gracious plan of God that brought it all about. We can see how both these goals are repeated throughout his Gospel. After all, his Gospel is designed to make disciples, as can be...

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The consolation at the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:18-25)

We can see from the account that Joseph had very good character features – we are told about his righteous attitude, his compassion (he did not want to embarrass Mary) and his carefulness (he thought about the situation). He did not happen to become like that only at the moment he discovered the problem. A lifetime of godliness had gone into the p...

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The circumstances of the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25)

I wonder where or how Joseph proposed to Mary. It looks from the rest of the Gospels that he was older than her, perhaps by twenty years or more. Whenever it happened, he would have been very happy. He was a devout man and the Lord had provided for him a devout person as his future wife. Then he heard that the unexpected, even the...

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The greatest birth (Matthew 1:18-25)

The birth of Jesus is a great mystery. In fact, it is generally regarded as one of two great mysteries of the Christian faith – they are the mystery of three persons in the Trinity and the mystery of two natures in the person of Christ. Saying that there are two great mysteries does not mean that there are only two because, as we know, there are m...

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